The Down East coast is a wild stretch of geography dominated by forest, waterways, lighthouses and miniscule communities. Lobstering and fishing drive the economy but artisans and innkeepers also thrive. Forget strip malls and fast-food chains; Down East is all about family-style dining and quaint B&Bs. The region lays claim to a scattering of offshore islands accessible by ferry or boat, many inhabited by arctic terns, puffins and razorbill auks. With more than 300 birds occupying a 2,166-acre peninsula, the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a birder’s dream. When it comes to the great outdoors, hiking, biking, sea kayaking, camping and whale-watching are just a few of the options you’ll enjoy. For those preferring relaxation over adrenaline, antique galleries and seaside villages are perfect for an afternoon of lazy ambling. Pristine inland lakes, blueberry barrens and dramatic tides are also commonplace, further evidence that sometimes a slower pace is all you need.